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Jalosjos appeals his disqualification from May polls

By: - Reporter / @T2TupasINQ
/ 01:37 PM January 21, 2013

Former Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos . INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Former Congressman Romeo Jalosjos on Monday asked the Supreme Court to reverse the ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualifying him from running in this year’s mayoralty race in Zamboanga City.

In a 60-page petition for certiorari, Jalosjos through his lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Carlo Vistan also asked the high court to issue a restraining order to stop the poll body from implementing its ruling.

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The petitioner claimed that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion for issuing the resolution.

Comelec bars Jalosjos from running in the May 2013 elections saying he was previously convicted of rape, which aside from imprisonment, perpetually bars the person from holding public office.

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Macalintal argued that the resolution was issued without notice and hearing and without even referring it first to a Comelec Division as required by law.

“If COCs of nuisance candidates cannot be cancelled or denied due course without giving the nuisance candidates the chance to be heard, there is no reason why the same due process or hearing cannot be accorded Jalosjos”, Macalintal said.

Macalintal cited the cases of several nuisance candidates whom the Comelec called for a hearing before their COCs were cancelled or denied due course.  One of them was a certain Daniel Magtira who filed COC for Senator and who claimed to be the husband of Kris Aquino and had been filing COCs for various positions for the past 11 years.

He pointed out that Section 4, Rule 24 of the Comelec Rules provides for “an opportunity” to be heard before the COCs of nuisance candidates are cancelled.

“Furthermore, the questioned resolution of the Comelec en banc has preempted or prevented the Court of Appeals to decide an earlier appeal filed by Jalosjos regarding the clear and definite interpretation of the duration of the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office on the crime for which he was convicted,” Macalintal added.

“The Comelec committed grave error and grave abuse of discretion for disregarding the provision of Section 40 of the Local Government Code which provides that any person convicted with such accessory penalty is already qualified to run for a local elective position after two years from serving his sentence.  Since Jalosjos completed serving his sentence on December 16, 2007, then more than two years had already elapsed making him qualified to run for Mayor of Zamboanga City”, Macalintal stressed.

He added that the provision of the Revised Penal Code, a general law, on the duration of the said accessory penalty had already been amended by Section 40 of the Local Government Code which is the more specific law restoring the right to vote and run for public office of a convict after two years from service of sentence.

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“Thus, consistent with the principle of ‘in dubio pro reo and lenity’ courts are mandated to apply the more lenient or less harsh penalty against the accused – in this case Section 40 of the Local Government Code.  To penalize Jalosjos by depriving him of his constitutional right to vote beyond the period provided for in Section 40 of LGC would in effect be punishing him over the limit set by law.  Furthermore, doubts in interpreting criminal laws are always resolved in favor of the accused.”, Macalintal said.

Jalosjos’ application to register as a voter of Zamboanga City is now pending before the Court of Appeal  which is yet to resolve the issue of whether or not Section 40 of the LGC should be applied in his favor. “Thus, by issuing the said resolution without any notice or hearing, the Comelec en banc has preempted the action of the Court of Appeals on the said case and depriving Jalosjos of his constitutional right to due process.”

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TAGS: 2013 elections, News, Romeo Jalosjos, Supreme Court
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